CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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I AM

John 8 I AM everythingJohn – God Speaks!
 
This can be a tough, seemingly redundant passage, but Jesus has a tough crowd of unbelievers to address. This chapter began with a woman brought out into the streets to be stoned for her sin of adultery. At the end of this discourse Jesus is threatened to be stoned for his claim to be the Son of God.
 
John 8, New Living Translation
The Unbelieving People Warned
21 Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.”
 
22 The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going’?”
 
23 Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. 24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
 
25 “Who are you?” they demanded.
 
John 8 died for our sinsJesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. 26 I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” 27 But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father.
 
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. 29 And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” 30 Then many who heard him say these things believed in him.
 
Jesus and Abraham
john-8-36.jpg31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 
33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”
 
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. 37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”
 
39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared.
 
“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father.”
 
They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”
 
42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”
 
48 The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?”
 
49 “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. 50 And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. 51 I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”
 
52 The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
 
john 8 before54 Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
 
57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”
 
58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am! 59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.
 
John 5 point to JesusWHAT DO WE LEARN FROM JESUS?
 
“You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. 24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
 
“I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.”
 
“I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.”
 
“And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.”
 
“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 
“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.”
 
“If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me.”
 
Jesus tells us who the devil, the fallen angel is in very clear language. “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
 
“You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you don’t even know him. I know him.”
 
“I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!”
 
John 8 I AMHis statement found in John 8:58 can be translated, “Before Abraham came into being, I Am.” Again, this was another affirmation of His divine sonship, and the Jewish leaders received it as such. He had once again made Himself equal with God (John 5:18), and this was the sin of blasphemy, worthy of death (Lev. 24:16). Jesus was divinely protected and simply walked away. His hour had not yet come. We cannot help but admire His courage as He presented the truth and invited blind religious men to trust Him and be set free.
 
The most difficult people to win to the Savior are those who do not realize that they have a need. They are under the condemnation of God, yet they trust their religion to save them. They are walking in the darkness and not following the light of life. They are sharing a “living death” because of their bondage to sin, and, in spite of their religious deeds, they are dishonoring the Father and the Son. These are the people who crucified Jesus Christ, and Jesus called them the children of the devil.
 
Whose child are you? Is God your Father because you have received Jesus Christ into your life (John 1:12–13)? Or is Satan your father because you are depending on a counterfeit righteousness, a “works righteousness,” not the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ?
 
If God is your Father, then heaven is your home. If He is not your Father, then hell is your destiny.
 
John 8 the great I amIt is truly a matter of life or death!
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are God and we are not. You created us. You know all there is to know about us. There is nothing hidden from you. And yet, while we were yet sinners, Christ, Your Son, died for our sins. Jesus, You took our place for the punishment we well deserve. Your love for us is more than we can imagine. But you do love us. Your only desire is for us to love you back and to love each other the way you love us. I say yes! I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. I love all who love me but I also love those who do not and pray that they will believe in you before it is too late.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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IF YOU FOLLOW ME…

John – God Speaks!
 
John 8 12To “follow” the Lord Jesus means to believe on Him, to trust Him, and the results are life and light for the believer. The unsaved are walking in darkness because they love darkness (John 3:17.). One of the major messages in this gospel is that the spiritual light is now shining, but people cannot comprehend it— and they try to put it out (John 1:4–5).
 
John 8, New Living Translation
Jesus, the Light of the World
 
John 8 light of the world12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
 
13 The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”
 
John 8 I AM14 Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”
 
19 “Where is your father?” they asked.
 
Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” 20 Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.
 
John 8 12 lightTHINK ABOUT IT…
How tragic that these experts in the law did not even know their own Messiah as He stood before them! They claimed to know the law of God, but they did not know the God of the law. They did not have His Word abiding in their hearts (John 5:38), nor did they experience His love (John 5:42). They did not know the Father, and therefore did not know the Son.
 
Jesus never really answered their question, “Where is thy Father?” The word father is used twenty-one times in this chapter, so Jesus did not avoid the issue but faced it honestly. He knew that their “father” was not God—but the devil! These men were religious, and yet they were the children of the devil!
 
Their further attempts to arrest Jesus were again thwarted by the Father, for it was not yet our Lord’s hour when He should give His life. When the servant of God is in the will of God, he can have courage and peace as he does his duty.
 
Heavenly Father,
Our time to follow the Light is now. Our time to know and serve you is now. Let it be, Lord, as it pleases you.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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ROCK CONCERT – MIC DROPPED

John – God Speaks!
 
John 8 rocks of forgivenessThe religious elite, the learned, pious leaders of the community have bee bested by Jesus’s words and demeanor every time they encounter him. They talk doctrine and He talks salvation. They talk adhering to rules beyond The Law and He talks of the true intent of The Law of love, mercy and grace. They cannot seem to trap Jesus with words, so it’s time to down and dirty by demoralizing a woman and throwing her at the feet of Jesus as He is teaching!
 
So, what will you do with this woman, caught in the act of adultery is the question shouted for all to hear. They think this will do the trick. The trap has been set, the unholy circumstance lies before all to be judged by the Son of God. What will Jesus do?
 
I am reminded of what Jesus taught Nicodemus earlier, before this incident with the woman. Nicodemus, one of the religious elite, saw more in Jesus than the rest of the Pharisees. He came to Jesus secretly, with a sincere heart, wanting to know how to be in the Kingdom of God. Jesus responded;
 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
 
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
 
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
 
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
 
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
 
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:16-21, NIV
 
John 8 firstI’m wondering…are these words from Jesus spoken earlier, in the cover of darkness, going through Nicodemus’ mind while watching this woman, used as bait, in this grand scheme?
 
What was Nicodemus thinking as he watched her be pulled from her home, wrapped only in a sheet cloth, dragged through the street, into the Temple courtyard and thrown at the feet of Jesus for all to see?
 
The Law clearly says to stone her with rocks, big rocks. What will Jesus do, given what He has said earlier?
 
John 8, New Living Translation
 
A Woman Caught in Adultery
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
John 8 rocks in hand
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
 
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
 
John 8 the woman9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
 
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
 
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
 
THINK ABOUT IT…
 
Instead of passing judgment on the woman, Jesus passed judgment on the judges! No doubt He was indignant at the way they treated the woman. He was also concerned that such hypocrites should condemn another person and not judge themselves.
 
John 8 writingWe do not know what He wrote on the dirt floor of the temple. Was He simply reminding them that the Ten Commandments had been originally written “with the finger of God” and that He is God? Or was He perhaps reminding them of the warning in Jeremiah 17:13?
 
“Lord, you are the hope of Israel;
all who forsake you will be put to shame.
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the Lord,
the spring of living water.”
 
One thing is for sure, Jesus hears the accusers. He seems to ignore them. Jesus bends down and writes in the dust. But, when He seemed as though he didn’t hear them, he made it appear that he not only heard their words, but knew their thoughts…and their hearts.
 
John 8 neither do iThe woman, trembling, is waiting for the condemnation of Jesus.
 
Christ was without sin and the Only one present who had the right to cast the first stone. But with the compassionate action he took, He shows us, once again who God is in his actions. God is infinitely just and holy, none more compassionate to sinners, infinitely gracious and merciful to this poor woman who now stands ready for the verdict of her deliverance.
 
“Neither do I condemn you. Go…and sin no more.”
 
John 8 without sinWarren Wiersbe relates, “we must not misinterpret this event to mean that Jesus was “easy on sin” or that He contradicted the law. For Jesus to forgive this woman meant that He had to one day die for her sins.”
 
Forgiveness is free, but it is not cheap. Furthermore, Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law so that no one could justly accuse Him of opposing its teachings or weakening its power. By applying the law to the woman and not to themselves, the Jewish leaders were violating both the letter and the spirit of the law–and they thought they were defending Moses!
 
The law was given to reveal sin (Rom. 3:20 “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”), and we must be condemned by the law before we can be cleansed by God’s grace.
 
Law and grace do not compete with each other; they complement each other. Nobody was ever saved by keeping the law, but nobody was ever saved by grace who was not first indicted by the law. There must be conviction before there can be conversion.
 
Nor is Christ’s gracious forgiveness an excuse to sin. “Go, and sin no more!” was our Lord’s counsel. “But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Ps. 130:4).
 
“O Israel put your hope in the LORD for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Ps 130:7-8, NIV)
 
Certainly the experience of gracious forgiveness would motivate the repenting sinner to live a holy and obedient life to the glory of God.
 
WE ARE REDEEMED!
 
John 8 12We are going to dive right into the heart of this story about God and what He did and still does to redeem us daily. Because sometimes, and I do it myself, we continue to stone ourselves with rocks of self doubt, worry, guilt and generally thinking we will never be good enough. We get up from our altars of prayer for forgiveness and almost immediately we revisit the sin in our thoughts.
 
I’m writing to you this morning to remind you, and myself, that these thoughts mar the message of redemption and literally suck the joy from all that we are and do.
 
John 8 no stoneI want to take some time to lay down these heavy rocks and lean into what it means to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ! We’re going to lay down the jagged stones of guilt that makes us edgy and disagreeable.
 
We’re going to throw down the pebbles of bitterness, self loathing from our past and dissolve all regrets, replays of wrongs, and all the “wish I would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” in our lives.
 
We are going to “go and sin no more, leaving that life completely. Let’s begin today, at this very moment, to let go of all that holds us back! We are a redeemed, people! It’s time to live like it! It will bring a smile to your face and pep in your step!
 
Let the rocks fall.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Your story of redemption displayed in this incredibly awkward scene at The Temple reminds us of your love, compassion, mercy and grace for each one of us. Jesus, you came to save the lost. You did not come to condemn but to save us. We who are quick to judge, not knowing their story, sometimes have a hard time wrapping our minds around this act of mercy for the woman. You love beyond human love. Your love is divine, holy, and perfect. Thank you for loving me the way you do. Thank you for redeeming my soul.
 
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul
 
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
 
Well, only because of your forgiveness and grace to me.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe. I’m redeemed!
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THE “FOOLISH” CROWD VS. THE RELIGIOUS ELITE

John 7 16John – God Speaks!
 
Jesus came to earth to seek and to save lost people. But not all people knew they were terribly and unthinkably lost. It somehow surprises us that the most learned ones who studied The Law, knew it backwards and forwards, knew how to debate anyone who opposed what The Law said and ended up being the most lost. It would be safe to say, that these religious elite put all their energy into knowing The Law, adding detailed descriptions of how to behave in order for the people to adhere to it by their interpretations of The Law. Those who did not know were deemed foolish by those “in the know”.
 
Jesus turns the tables on the religious who have lost their relationship with God the Father, whom they say they worship. What they really worshiped was The Law alone. What they clung to was the self proclaimed power over the people they received from enforcing The Law.
 
“ANYONE who is thirsty, come to Me!”, shouts Jesus above the clamor of the religious debates. Jesus calls God’s people to come back to Him, believe in Him, follow Him and have a real, forever relationship with God again. Yes, Jesus was sent to fulfill the very Law that the learned religious elite had distorted for centuries. Jesus, God’s Son, came to save the lost. He is Messiah whom God’s people have been waiting, the Savior whom they have been expecting to come. He is here now.
 
Who’s foolish now?
john-7-living-water.jpg
john-7-jesus-controvesy.jpgJohn 7, New Living Translation
Jesus Promises Living Water
 
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
 
Division and Unbelief
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.
 
45 When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
 
46 “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.
 
47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. 48 “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? 49 This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”
 
50 Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. 51 “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked.
 
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
 
53 Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home.
 
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
 
A relationship with God begins with accepting Jesus as the Son of God, our Savior, the One who came and died and rose again for our sins.
 
John 7 flowOur relationship becomes more intimate as we come to God through Jesus to commune (talk and listen) with Him. We tell him all that is in our hearts He himself created. We listen to all He has to say to us. We follow His best for our lives. He helps us wade through the troubles of this world with wisdom asked for and received. The more we talk, listen and obey the more intimate our relationship becomes. We find also that the closer we abide with him the closer and more intimate our relationships becomes with others.
 
Again we ask, “Who’s foolish”?
 
Who is the fool?
 
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2
 
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
 
“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” Matthew 7:26
 
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…”
1 Corinthians 1:27
 
John 7 crowd follows47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. 48 “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? 49 This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”
 
Um, I don’t think so….part of the “foolish crowd” had it right, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” But then the crowd was divided over what they did not know about His lineage. The true foolish couldn’t get past their small thinking.
 
HOLY PAUSE
 
What do you think?
 
John 7 lead meYou cannot help but feel sorry for the people described in this chapter, people who responded to Jesus in the wrong ways. His half-brothers responded with disbelief, various people responded with debate, and the result was division. Had they willingly received the truth, and had they acted with sincere obedience, they would have ended up at the feet of Jesus, confessing Him as Messiah and Son of God.
 
But people today commit the same blunder and permit their prejudices and superficial evaluations to blind them to the truth. Don’t let it happen to you!
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for coming to set us free from the bondage of sin self imposed and imposed by the world. Thank you for teaching us what to believe and how to behave with Your Spirit of Truth in us. Thank you for boldness to stand firm in our faith. There is no one like You. There is no other way but You. Teach me. Transform me. Send me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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TOUGH CROWD!

John – God Speaks!
 
john-7-tough-crowd.jpgImagine growing up in a deeply religious family who are at their place of worship “every time the doors are open”. This family probably helps out those in their community, as long as they are part of their community. This family is so devout that they will travel at their own expense to the “big city” to attend religious conventions with other religious families of their faith. The family works hard to obey all the rules. This family believes in doing the right things no matter what.
 
Jesus grew up in a family like this. Jesus, Son of God, grew up with deeply religious brothers who did not believe He was indeed the Son of God, The Messiah, the One who would save the lost of this world…at least not yet.
 
The brothers are impressed at what He can do but do not believe the Truth of Who He is. They want their earthly brother to become famous, probably thinking they will bask in some of the notoriety, too.
 
John 7 believeJesus knows their hearts. Jesus also knows the hearts of the crowd and the hearts of the religious elite who are in power. Jesus’ Father knows it is not time to reveal Jesus for Who He really is but speaks through Jesus at the event and at the synagogue. God’s word in Jesus who is the “word made flesh” speaks. Remember that thought.
 
Now, imagine walking into a crowd of people who do not know you well. What they do know they critically judge and surmise you are not worth hearing…until you speak.
 
John 7, New Living Translation
Jesus and His Brothers
 
John 7 dividedAfter this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
 
6 Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. 7 The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. 8 You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” 9 After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.
 
Jesus Teaches Openly at the Temple
10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
 
14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked.
 
16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.”
 
20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?”
 
21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
John 7 Jesus is Savior
Is Jesus the Messiah?
 
25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”
 
28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
 
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?”
 
John 7 Nicodemis32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. 33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”
 
35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”
 
HOLY PAUSE
 
If Jesus walked among us and entered a crowd of people standing around at church discussing life, would we listen?
 
Are we part of the tough crowd or part of the believing, no matter what, crowd?
 
Does the Truth in the Person of Jesus offend us or restore our relationship with the God who created us?
 
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
 
In our Lord’s actions, we see a beautiful illustration of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The Father had a plan for His Son, and nothing could spoil that plan.
 
It requires spiritual discernment to know God’s timing.
 
John 7 not yetNOTE: Many people in the crowd of festival attenders would not be influenced by the attitude of the religious leaders at Jerusalem. You will note in John 7:20 that “the people” were amazed that anybody would want to kill Jesus! They were not up to date on all the gossip in the city and had to learn the hard way that Jesus was considered a lawbreaker by the officials.
 
When Jesus began to teach openly in the temple, the debate shifted to His doctrine (John 7:14–19). Character and doctrine go together, of course. It would be foolish to trust the teachings of a liar!
 
The Jews depended on education and authorities and received their doctrine secondhand, but Jesus insisted that we experience the authority of truth personally.
 
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan said it perfectly: “When men are wholly, completely consecrated to the will of God and want to do that above everything else, then they find out that Christ’s teaching is divine, that it is the teaching of God.”
 
This was certainly a crisis hour in Jesus’ ministry, and some of the leaders tried to have Him arrested, but “his hour was not yet come.” Many of the pilgrims put their faith in Him. It was a faith based on miracles, but at least it was a beginning (see John 2:23; 6:2, 26).
 
Nicodemus first became interested in Jesus because of His miracles (John 3:1–2), and eventually he openly professed faith in Christ.
 
HOLY PAUSE
 
Where are we in our faith? Merely impressed or Wholly committed?
 
Father, Lord, and Savior,
I believe. Even when the crowd is tough, I will believe. Teach me. Restore me. Transform me. I’m yours. Your servant is listening.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
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WHOEVER BELIEVES

John – God Speaks!
 
John 5 Jesus loves meChildren’s minds are not like adult minds. As a former first grade teacher I had to be careful how I explained new concepts because many times what I thought I was saying was not necessarily what they were hearing, picturing and interpreting in their minds. That’s why as teachers we ask many questions to clarify what the students are learning. We want to make sure they “get it” before moving on to the next step in the process.
 
It also happens at home and is brought to school in the form of a “new learning” they receive from home. For instance, a little girl announced to her class one morning, “My dad taught me how to make love!” She was so excited to share this new information. I’m pretty sure I have YOUR attention at this point. Her teacher, in her first year of teaching, overheard this joyful statement and brought her into the hall. She also ran over to my classroom for help from her mentor in the matter.
 
Since I was the more experienced teacher, I calmly asked the little girl to repeat her new learning. More than ready to share her news, the little girl said, “My dad taught me how to make love without all the words!”
 
“Ah, that sounds so interesting, can you show us how he told you?”
 
“Oh, yes!” Then she began to ‘write’ on her arm with her finger while telling us, “You write ‘I’ then draw a heart, then write ‘you’…’I love you’…with a heart! That’s how to make love.”
 
The younger teacher giggled in relief. I bent down and told the little girl, “THAT is news worth sharing to the class.”
 
john-6-scripture.jpgJesus is teaching the masses who now followed after being fed in the wilderness with a few fish and loaves of bread, “I AM the Bread of Life. He takes his learners back to the manna days of Moses and God’s people who roamed the desert because of disobedience. Being the Master Teacher he begins with what they already know and tries to take them farther in their thinking.
 
But even Jesus had skeptics who refused to understand what he was saying. They just could and would not believe that He was Who He said He was. Refusing to believe, taking every word literally, they were turning down eternal life with Him. Wow.
 
Many wanted to be around Him for what He could do. But were not committed enough to believe who He was.
 
Are we like that in our world today?
 
John 6, New Living Translation
Jesus, the Bread of Life
 
John 6 of life22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. 23 Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. 24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. 25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
 
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
 
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
 
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
 
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
 
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
 
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
 
John 6 bread of life35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.
 
39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
 
41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
 
43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. 45 As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)
 
47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
 
John 6 bread not manna52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.
 
53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
 
59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
 
JESUS LOSES HIS CROWD
 
As you read the gospel records, note that our Lord was never impressed by the great crowds. He knew that their motives were not pure and that most of them followed Him in order to watch His miracles of healing. “Bread and circuses” was Rome’s formula for keeping the people happy, and people today are satisfied with that kind of diet. Give them food and entertainment and they are happy. Rome set aside ninety-three days each year for public games at government expense. It was cheaper to entertain the crowds than to fight them or jail them.
 
We must never be deceived by the “popularity” of Jesus Christ among certain kinds of people today. Very few want Him as Savior and Lord. Many want Him only as Healer or Provider, or the One who rescues them from problems they have made for themselves. “For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
 
John 6 Jesus isThe purpose of the sign was that He might preach the sermon. Again, it was a ministry of “grace and truth” (John 1:17). In grace, our Lord fed the hungry people, but in truth, He gave them the Word of God. They wanted the food but they did not want the truth, and, in the end, most of them abandoned Jesus and refused to walk with Him. He lost His crowd with one sermon!
 
No doubt some of the people who had been fed simply went away to their homes, while others stayed to see what Jesus would do next. This sermon on “the bread of life” is actually a dialogue between Christ and the people, especially the religious leaders (“the Jews”).
 
Jesus pointed out that there are two kinds of food: food for the body, which is necessary but not the most important, and food for the inner man, the spirit, which is essential. What the people needed was not food but life, and life is a gift. Food only sustains life, but Jesus gives eternal life. The words of Isaiah come to mind: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2 nasb).
 
The people picked up the word labor and misinterpreted it to mean they had to work for salvation. They completely missed the word give. Steeped in legalistic religion, they thought they had to “do something” to merit eternal life. Jesus made it clear that only one “work” was necessary—to believe on the Savior. When a person believes on Christ, he is not performing a good work that earns him salvation. There is certainly no credit in believing, for it is what God does in response to our faith that is important (see Eph. 2:8–10).
 
The result of this message was the loss of most of our Lord’s disciples. They went back to the old life, the old religion, and the old hopeless situation. Jesus Christ is “the way” (John 14:6), but they would not walk with Him. This was no surprise to the Lord, because He knows the hearts of all people.
 
When Jesus asked His twelve apostles if they planned to desert Him too, it was Peter who spoke up and declared their faith. Where else could they go? “You have the words of eternal life.” Peter got the message! He knew that Jesus was speaking about the Word and not about literal flesh and blood.
 
john-6-words-of-life-1.jpgThe preaching of the Word of God always leads to a sifting of the hearts of the listeners. God draws sinners to the Savior through the power of truth, His Word. Those who reject the Word will reject the Savior. Those who receive the Word will receive the Savior and experience the new birth, eternal life.
 
Do you feel your need because there is a spiritual hunger within? Are you willing to admit that need and come to the Savior? If you will, He will save you and satisfy you forever!
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
I get it. I believe. Teach me. Transform me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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THE DESTINATION

John – God Speaks!
 
John 6 fear to faith
What is our destination? Do we get all caught up in the details of just surviving another day that we totally forget about the destination, the place we want to arrive? Sometimes we need to walk backwards in our thoughts and remember where we are going and with Whom we are traveling with on the journey.
 
When we go it alone, storms of frustration, illness, losses of all kinds can sweep over us in waves of fear. We lose our bearings. We forget where we are going and why we are going there. We struggle hour by hour.
 
CURRENT SITUATION
Our church has invited the community of our city to come and experience an indoor celebration for families beginning this evening and going through tomorrow evening. It is an outreach to help others find and follow Jesus in a low risk, friendly first step to finding Him. Literally thousands have already preregistered! Our staff and volunteers are thrilled and a little fearful at the same time. Can we handle all the people God is sending to us? Will there be enough? Will we be enough? We pray, (and you can pray with us!) that we will not forget our destination, that while we think we will be walking on the waters of what seems like impossibilities, God has ordained this event for His glory and for people to find Him.
 
John 6 walkThe disciples are in choppy waters, miles from shore, too far to bail and swim, then the Son of God comes walking toward them and they are eager to let Him in the boat with them. He calms the sea. He calls out “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” And immediately they arrive at their destination.
 
Jesus. Oh what a Savior! Call out to Him and He will calm your fears and come into the boat with you. Only then will we arrive safely at our destination.
 
John 6, New Living Translation
Jesus Walks on Water
John 6 walking on water.jpg
John 6 destination16 That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. 17 But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. 18 Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. 19 They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you, Lord, for this timely message of hope, joy, love, and confidence that replaces fear because of our trust in You, the God of the impossible. Nothing is too hard for you! Bring calm and peace like no one else can. All our faith is in You.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
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